Category Archives: Nature

H.D. Poetry

Hilda Doolittle is, in my opinion, one of the first ecofeminist writers. Her modernist writing enters into a space to challenge and decode gender issues through analyzing the body in relation to nature scenes. She explores a female identity through the pastoral in a way that challenges how it has been used in a typical male point of view. The poem Sheltered Garden in particular, demonstrates a relationship between nature and culture through the example of a confining ‘paradise’.

Sheltered Garden

  1. I have had enough.
  2. I gasp for breath.
  3. Every way ends, every road,
  4. every foot-path leads at last
  5. to the hill-crest —
  6. then you retrace your steps,
  7. or find the same slope on the other side,
  8. precipitate.
  9. I have had enough —
  10. border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
  11. herbs, sweet-cress.
  12. O for some sharp swish of a branch —
  13. there is no scent of resin
  14. in this place,
  15. no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
  16. aromatic, astringent —
  17. only border on border of scented pinks.
  18. Have you seen fruit under cover
  19. that wanted light —
  20. pears wadded in cloth,
  21. protected from the frost,
  22. melons, almost ripe,
  23. smothered in straw?
  24. Why not let the pears cling
  25. to the empty branch?
  26. All your coaxing will only make
  27. a bitter fruit —
  28. let them cling, ripen of themselves,
  29. test their own worth,
  30. nipped, shrivelled by the frost,
  31. to fall at last but fair
  32. with a russet coat.
  33. Or the melon —
  34. let it bleach yellow
  35. in the winter light,
  36. even tart to the taste —
  37. it is better to taste of frost —
  38. the exquisite frost —
  39. than of wadding and of dead grass.
  40. For this beauty,
  41. beauty without strength,
  42. chokes out life.
  43. I want wind to break,
  44. scatter these pink-stalks,
  45. snap off their spiced heads,
  46. fling them about with dead leaves —
  47. spread the paths with twigs,
  48. limbs broken off,
  49. trail great pine branches,
  50. hurled from some far wood
  51. right across the melon-patch,
  52. break pear and quince —
  53. leave half-trees, torn, twisted
  54. but showing the fight was valiant.
  55. O to blot out this garden
  56. to forget, to find a new beauty
  57. in some terrible
  58. wind-tortured place.

H.D.’s poetry presents a woman how has had enough of the beauty of the outdoors, the wild, and searches for a beauty that does not need to be so fragile. This kind of beauty without strength is stifling. The narrative of the poem shifts into a less nurturing and much more violent narrative in the end of the poem, where H.D. creates images for the reader to rethink conventional ideas of beauty and how it is defined in relation to nature. In the majority of H.D.’s poetry, she puts an emphasis on the female perspective of mythologies which have often left women without a voice. By using conventions of the pastoral, such as sweet pink flowers, she is able to critique the presumptions regarding women and express a much more realistic presentation of women.

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Ecosexuality

The term “ecosex” is one I have never come across before. According to self-proclaimed ecosexual Annie Sprinkle, it is the process of “exploring the landscape of a new sexual movement [of] Erotic Environmentalism, Green Porn [and] Nature Fetishes”. There is a book written about the topic: Eco Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets written by Stephanie Iris Weiss, explaining how to go green in your sex life through buying eco-friendly sex products.  The book looks interesting and (I’m sure) will become a nightstand accessory for many environmentalists out there, but I believe the idea of ecosexuality is one that can be explored beyond sex toys and latex free condoms.

Reflecting back on Annie Sprinkle, photos of her expressing her ecosexuality are interesting.  These photos depict her as a cultural feminist, upholding a goddess image through her as mother nature: a Gaia-esque presentation holding the world at her abdomen.Despite presenting herself in the image of “mother earth” she and her partner Elizabeth Stephens coined the phrase “Earth is our lover and no longer our mother”. Ecosexuality is encouraging individuals to view nature as our lover, rather than our mother – which holds the potential to adapt a new relationship to the environment as to women:

“People think of the earth as ‘Mother Earth’. But today Earth is so battered, abused, blown-up, exploited, ripped apart and polluted, that she can’t handle the burden of being a ‘Mother’ anymore. It would be better to think of the Earth as a ‘Lover’ because we take care of our lovers instead of expecting them to take care of us”

If the key ideas of ecosexuality could be promoted within Western Society I believe a much different bond would and could develop towards nature and society.  Viewing nature as having “abundant sensual delights, breathtaking beauty, delicious scents, tastes, and occasional temper tantrums” and being “magical, mysterious, curvaceous, exciting and unpredictable” a very sacred and respectful relationship could develop.  The idea of ecosexuality could reframe our understanding of nature; developing the respect need for destructive relationships.  Changing the outlook we currently have on nature’s worth could ultimately refashion the ideologies which support dominating the feminine aspects of binary relationships.

Kent Monkman’s Shooting Geronimo

Shooting Geronimo is an amazing short film by Kent Monkman. Unfortunately, it is no where to be found on the internet but is available at the York University Sound and Moving Image Library! I took a number of screen shots for a visual understanding of the film.

The short film opens with a backdrop of rocks, a cactus and distant mountains to depict a traditional landscape of “somewhere in the old west”. This landscape encourages the viewer to think about “Cowboys and Indians” in the Wild West through this imagery, as well as the garb worn by a Native man. These images write the script of “being Native” in the wilderness. The men, later revealed as Johnny Silvercloud and Blake Tenderfoot, wear this stereotypical “Indian” clothing when in front of the backdrop of the wilderness. This depiction of wilderness and Native practice are paralleled in the film, presenting the men in the image of an “authentic Indian man” to the colonial white man behind the camera. The construction of this Native identity is done so in conjunction with nature.  It is the setting of the wilderness that encourages these stereotypes and supports the preconceived notions of “Cowboys and Indians”.

This shot demonstrates the ideas about a Native culture, and how the colonizer behind the camera perpetuates the stereotypes. The Native men are encouraged to uphold these identities. The fictions and images of Native men in a wilderness setting have come to stand in for the real and are authenticated as truth. The perception of “Indian-ness” is constructed through a racist lens, focused on the stereotyped ideas of Native culture and it’s relationship to nature and wilderness at it’s most authentic or real.

The Lonesome Rider is introduced on screen, a body which challenges these notions of “Indian-ness” and disrupts the dualism between a Cowboy and an Indian in the wilderness.

The white colonizer stands behind the camera, critiquing Johnny Silvercloud’s facial expressions, insinuating that they are not masculine, somber or stern enough. He is not performing the Indian-ness the white man wants to capture.

The white man looks to Blake Tenderfoot to perform on stage as the Red Menance, believing he can present himself in the authentic image of the ‘Indian’ he seeks to portray better than the former.

The “Ghost Dance of the American Indian” is a one of the most prominent dances of Native culture.

The men are asked to perform this dance, but are stopped when the white colonizer exclaims, “No, more authentic … like this!” and proceed to dance in circles while patting his mouth, assuming the stereotypes of Native American dance. This white man has identified himself to be more authentic at dancing a Native American dance than the two men he is filming.

This shot consists of The Lonesome Rider, Silvercloud and Tenderfoot dancing freely; the two men mirroring her actions.  We see her challenge the space for Native American identity through her queer body. She is challenging white power through rearticulating how a space of wilderness can be used.

The three dancers challenge the colonial requests and use their bodies to recreate the traditional Ghost Dance through moves I can only equate to hip-hop and break dancing.

This scene has jumped to the white man reminding Silvercloud that as the Red Menace, he is a “fierce renegade”. To demonstrate this Indian-ness he wants Silvercloud to perform, the colonizer puts on the wig of long black hair to “show” him how a Native man should act. He initiates a mock fight, hiding behind a large rock on set with an axe to explain the actions of the “Indian” identity.

He continues on to tell Silvercloud, “Now the Cowboy shoots the Indian” while performing the role of the “Indian”.  We see a reversal of these roles of Cowboys and Indians when the Native man kills the white man. While this is happening, The Lonesome Rider watches, symbolizing the disruption of these stereotypes.

This short film challenged the cultural roles of the colonizer and the Native man in nature, and the concepts associated with their identities.  These stereotyped identities of Native men are presented very sexually and encourage by the amateur filmmaker, as Monkman also presents a homoerotic desire depicted in the film by the white man. The identities are founded on their relationship with nature, and the film challenges how the landscape of the West creates a fictional identity of “Indian-ness”